Acts 6:1-7 – Seven Chosen to Serve

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Acts 6:1

  1. Until Acts 5 and 6, the first church has held together. They have been persecuted, brought before the Great Council and scourged, but they have held together as “one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32). But now the honeymoon is over and the first internal divisions are beginning within the Church.
    1. If the devil fails to stop the church from spreading the gospel, he will try to stop the church from within.
  2. Both of these groups in the congregation were ethnically “Jews”, but the native Jews were from Judea and Galilee while the Greek-speakers were from the Diaspora. At first, congregational life certainly worked well, but as time goes on, the differences become apparent.
    1. Paul’s vision that in the church it should not matter whether one is a “Jew or a Greek” is shown here in practice (Gal 3:28).
    1. If you transfer the text to today, you can compare Swedes and immigrants. In theory, we all agree that it shouldn’t matter if you’re Swedish or an immigrant, but the more you live together, the clearer the differences become. To overcome this, we need to listen to the complaints and work on integration.
  3. The first church had quickly grown to several thousand members (Acts 4:4) and they shared all their possessions in common (Acts 4:32). Many of the Greek-speaking Jews from the diaspora who had now become Christians were in Jerusalem primarily to celebrate Passover, but after they were saved and baptized, it seems that many of them stayed behind. To make sure that all parishioners had food for the day, they distributed food to all who needed it.
    1. Distributing food to widows and orphans was normally done by the priests in the temple, but for some reason Christians seem to think they need to do it too.
      1. In the same way, we as a church today should help socially vulnerable people. Even if it is the responsibility of the municipality, we need to help if the municipality is not enough or if someone falls through the cracks.
    1. In 1 Timothy 5:3-16 we see that the first Christians took care of their widows. But at the same time they were careful not to give help to just anyone. First of all, the family should help the one in need, but if there is no family left, the church needs to help.
  4. For some reason, the Greek-speaking Jews felt that their widows did not receive the same treatment as the native Jews. Exactly what happened is not clear, but with such a rapidly growing congregation of several thousand members, it’s not surprising if there’s an organizational glitch somewhere.
    1. It was good of the Greek-speaking Jews to bring the problem to the attention of the leaders of the congregation. However, one should of course avoid “complaining” and instead go to the leaders directly and point out the problem and find a solution.
    1. In the same way, it is quite natural today that from time to time unintentional organizational mistakes occur in the work of the church.
      1. By pointing out the problem to the leaders, solutions can be found. Complaining risks creating division and resentment.

Acts 6:2-4

  1. The problem was unintentional and not the result of misconduct. But now that the apostles and disciples see the problem, they realize that they need to reorganize the food distribution.
    1. As a church leader, it is impossible to foresee every possible problem or change, but once a problem arises, it must be dealt with and the necessary changes made. You don’t always get to choose which problems and situations you face, but once you do, you have to deal with them.
  2. The apostles could have dealt with the complaints by ignoring the Greek-speaking Jews. Or they could have split into two congregations, one Hebrew-speaking and one Greek-speaking. But they didn’t. Instead, the apostles’ solution was to include more leaders in the ministry. If they had committed themselves to distributing food to the widows, they would have neglected the specific calling they themselves had received from Jesus. But by recognizing the problem and appointing new leaders to work on it, they resolved the situation in the best possible way.
    1. In a congregation, the pastor is not supposed to do everything. Rather, church leaders are supposed to “equip the saints to carry out their ministry of building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). That is, church leaders are to help church members find and grow into a role in the church that suits them, so that they too can participate in building up the kingdom of God from the gifts and skills they have.
    1. It is my experience that those who see a need do so because God has placed that task on their heart and is calling them to enter into that ministry. So when someone complains about something in the church, a good leader should turn a person’s complaint into trying to help that person into ministry and become part of the solution themselves.
  3. It is clear that the apostles devoted a great deal of their time to the Bible and prayer. Pastors and church leaders today should be inspired by this and realize its importance. To be a church leader is not first and foremost to be a leader, manager or administrator, it is to be a worshipper and a preacher.
  4. It is not stated in the text, but the ministry of these seven is described in other parts of the Bible as “deacons” or “ministers of the church” (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
  5. The seven church servants were to be filled with “Spirit and wisdom”, that is, they were to be both spiritual and good at their work. Having only one or the other will not be good, but the combination makes a good church leader!
    1. Although church work is practical, it is important to have a good spiritual character when entering into service for God.
    1. Perhaps the apostles thought that the servants of the church should work one day a week and that is why they chose seven?

Acts 6:5-6

  1. The whole church had to participate in the apostles’ decision by confirming that their proposal was “good”. Even if the whole church cannot decide, they can be involved in confirming.
  2. The church itself had a part in appointing these seven church servants, but it was the apostles who separated them into service by praying and laying hands on them.
    1. A church leader does not need to do everything or have knowledge of everything, but he or she does need to take responsibility for everything.
  3. All seven church servants have Greek names, so they were probably part of the Greek-speaking Jews who felt they had been overlooked by the Hebrew-speaking Jews. It was very wise of the apostles to appoint Greek-speaking Jews to this particular leadership.
  4. This text shows us that such a practical and seemingly simple and unglamorous task as distributing food to widows was a spiritual task that needed intercession and separation from the apostles.
    1. In a similar way, Jesus set a good example by washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-5). Doing practical chores to help a fellow human being may well be a spiritual service and should not be belittled.
    1. Making coffee and spreading sandwiches for addicts or homeless people who visit the church is a corresponding spiritual service today that also needs intercession and spiritual wisdom. For what should the homeless face when they come to church? Well, not just coffee and sandwiches but also warmth, compassion, a Bible word, an encouragement, intercession and social help.

Acts 6:7

  1. If the devil’s strategy was to divide the church and distract the apostles from the Word and the ministry of prayer, he failed miserably.
    1. Instead of distracted apostles and a fragmented congregation, the result was a better organised church, wise leaders, new church servants and continued successful growth. And what’s more, a large number of ministers were saved!
  2. There were probably about 8,000 priests and 10,000 Levites who took turns to serve at the temple.
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